Despite the heat the issue of divorce, separation and the welfare of children had been generating for decades, the Australian Government was slow to address family law reform. While more than a million children were listed with the Child Support Agency, an institution as roundly and profoundly despised as the Family Court itself, politicians were reluctant to move into such an emotionally charged and gendered arena. Finally, with an increasingly large number of disenchanted constituents, the government had little choice but to move. As one Member of Parliament said, the level of anger in the community was "frightening".
The massive wave of supportive media following the then Prime Minister of Australia John Howard's announcement of an inquiry into joint custody in mid-June of 2003 demonstrated that Australia's wiliest conservative politicians had hit on a raw nerve. Whatever the faults and frustrations in the prolonged and frustrating path towards shared parenting that was to follow, the Inquiry itself produced solid evidence on the state of dysfunction prevailing in the courts and bureaucracies dealing with the more than 50,000 couples a year who had fallen out with each other; but not with their offspring.
No one reading the transcripts of the Inquiry, which conducted hearings around Australia and took hundreds of submissions, could be left under any illusion about the distress being caused by the prevailing sole-mother custody model.
This book traces the history of family law reform in Australia and its contentious treatment of non-custodial parents by the Family Court, usually but not always fathers, and documents its resistance to change despite the public odium in which Australia's Family Court is often held. What happened in Australia has relevance for fathers and campaigners for divorce reform around the world.
The series, which evolved out of what is now the world's longest running father's radio program Dads On The Air of which the author was a founding member, is the most complete record available of the prolonged push to change the nation's dysfunctional family law system.
This is the third book in the series Chaos At The Crossroads, which is the most definitive record ever published of the long struggle for family law reform by fathers and their sympathisers, as well as second families, grandparents and non-custodial mothers. The books are designed so they can be read separately or together. Others in the series include The Birth of Dads On The Air, Chaos at the Crossroads: In the Beginning, State Created Pain and The Final Days of Alastair Nicholson.